I enjoy romances that explore Asian history and give me a glimpse into another time and place and culture. While The Geisha With the Green Eyes is not heavy on authenticity when it comes to her heroine’s situation and the whole idea of the Hidden Palace of women- which the author clearly states in her opening that she planned to deviate- the overall events and tone did give a glimpse of the entertainment and pleasure community of 1850s Edo (Tokyo) just as the Shogun era is ending. The colorful and restricted world for a Geisha-style woman coming into her own was a captivating read.
The story opens with young Midori No Me (Green Eyes) begins her rite of passage as a pleasure worker of the Floating World of Edo when her virginity is sold to the highest bidder. Her experience is painful and leaves her miserable that now she will be forced to entertain more men like the one who purchased her virginity. Midori is not a slave in the traditional sense as she can buy her freedom and her debt is for her upkeep and provisions, but the likelihood of anything short of a rich benefactor making her his personal mistress and buying her debt, is slim.
Midori is not a traditional Geisha like those who live across the courtyard. She and the other women of the Hidden House all possess some sort of difference and are thought of as freaks in some way and cater to men of diverse taste. Midori is half-barbarian and has the hair color and eyes of her barbarian father. She knows this is why her parents abandoned her to auntie and the Hidden House. Her very differences are what make her fascinating to the men who come and she must cater to their every kinky whim.
But then her life is changed when the greatest actor of the kabuki theater sees her and he is interested for more than one appointment. Envy comes from others and the unwelcoming attentions of a crime lord work to destroy her hope and happiness. She had dared to dream of freedom, but she should have known that freedom was not for the likes of her.
Alright, as I said, this one is set in historic Japan of the 1850s. Women of any class and caste are considered less than men. The Geisha Houses are where the artists, musicians, and poets congregate as well as men of power and enterprise. But this story is somewhat different in that the author invents a hybrid geisha-courtesan group where Midori and the others are called Geishas, but they also take the entertainment into the bedroom.
And whew boy, does it ever take it into the bedroom. This story is erotic and descriptive where pretty much anything goes though not all happens to Midori herself. I can’t believe I’m going to say this, but after a while, the erotic scenes got boring and I was skimming. The sexual terminology was cringeworthy, too. ‘Bursting his fruit’ ‘Splitting the Melon’ and more left me a little nauseated truth be told. I didn’t need several scenes of Midori and her johns to get the idea and I just wanted the plot to move forward.
Midori herself is an interesting character full of depth and growth. She is relatively ignorant as her experiences have never extended to much of an education or beyond the walls of the Hidden House. The women and men who share her fate are the only family she has, but only one earns her trust as friend. She has to learn about the world beyond the Hidden House and how the events from outside begin the change to her situation. While she learns about events and affairs beyond her home, she also gets quite the education about men. She is intuitive which makes her good at what she does, but being good at pleasing men and possessing an inquisitive and sometimes fiery nature also brings its own mishaps and sorrows as well as triumphs.
The romance in this one is on the back shelf compared to Midori’s individual story. It was developed, but also not developed enough though it has a fairy tale quality to it. I was actually confused at one point who she was in a romance with or if there was to be a love triangle, but that didn’t last long.
Other than some pacing issues and some of the sexual description, I did feel a little disappointment that at the end some things were left open leaving me to wonder what happened with those situations. But overall, this was a bittersweet, but ultimately triumphant historical erotic romance that I would recommend to those who like heat with their history.